doodlemaier: (Default)
I lieu of working my own hive this weekend Chuck invited me out to "the Fort", his place in Ft. Valley, where he manages four hives, 2 of Italians, 1 of Carniolans, and a "split" that he created from a few frames of brood from each. He's been at this a few more years than have I and can do fun things like that with entire colonies. I hope to split my hive next spring, but first I have to see them through the coming winter, so that's a post for another day. He makes no claims to being a mentor but the truth is I wouldn't have gotten this far without his help, insight, and guidance.

Because I'm obstinate I don't regularly wear gloves when working my own hive, and because I'm dumb I left my wedding band on while working Chuck's hives. And bees, being bees, generally are all about the bling in the worst possible way - as in "Oh, Shiny! Let's attack that!" So while Chuck was going through the frames on hive#2 and I was taking pictures I was stung on the back of the hand, and then again on my left ring finger which is now swollen to the point that I can't get the ring off. So far, it's not so bad as to cut off the circulation but it certainly hampers my already meager typing skills. I'll attempt to get a point across with as much cutting, pasting and pictures. . .

Hmmmmm. . . accessing these files lends a whole new dimension to "buggy" software. Chuck uses an 8 frame version of the standard 10 frame Langstroth hive and I probably would, too, had I met him earlier. They make lifting a super full of honey much lighter and easier. Notice also the tool he's holding in his right hand. He's gotten me in the habit of using a painter's 5-in-1 rather than the classic hive tool or even the "improved" modern version (the one with the yellow paint) We've just found that the 5-in-1 allows us to apply a lot more torque when prying loose sticky, propolis-bound frames.


Happy birthday, Beautiful! From a group of capped brood cells a brand new bee chews her way into the world! She'll begin life as a nurse bee staying within the confines of the hive until gradually transitioning to foraging duties as she gets older. Within the span of a few weeks she will have worked herself to death for the greater good of her sisters. Don't we all wish we had family that dedicated!


As fun as it might sound, the point of regular hive inspections is not getting stung repeatedly but rather checking the health of a colony. The best way to determine how well the hive's doing is to locate the queen, and in a burgeoning colony this becomes an increasingly difficult task. Sometimes the mere evidence that she's been there recently has to suffice, such as the presence of brood and, especially, eggs. The maggotty-looking things toward the center are larval bees. In the upper left-hand quadrant you might be able to make out eggs resembling tiny grains of rice anchored to the bottoms of the cells. (click through for full-size) This is good news! It means the queen has been there sometime earlier that day.


Of course, nothing beats meeting Her Majesty in person! She's the one with the enlongated abdomen. Within a few days after hatching from her special over-sized cell she'll take to the wing for her mating flight where she copulates with dozens of drones, or male bees. Bee breeders attempt to control the lineage of their bees by restricting her access to certain drones usually those of the same species, and specifically those with desirable traits of productivity, gentle temperament, and disease and pest resistance. After returning to the hive her sex life is pretty well over. Although it's a common practice for beekeepers to replace a queen every to every other season, she can live a (re)productive life for as long as three. At this point she's basically an egg laying machine.


Can you spot the queen?


Here, take a closer look. . .


Still no luck? Now imagine trying to find her in a box of eight to ten frames as she moves from one to the next among hundreds of other bees milling throughout and you stand in the hot sun, sweating head to toe in your full length bee overalls and veil while the rest of the colony flies ass-first into your face in an attempt to kill you by stinging your eyes and mouth shut! Still photographs on the internet leave a lot to be desired. . . I consider it an exercise in patience and presence. Lapses in mindfulness during a hive inspection are punished with swift certainty!


Ha ha! Bees. . . so called the "angels of agriculture". The real point of all this masochistic craziness is the honey harvest (granted, bee folk love their bees for their own sake) It's an age old arrangement of housing-for-honey, like taxes we attempt to get Nature to do what we want, and we're "The Man". We estimated that there's probably at least 7 lbs. of un-extracted honey within this single shallow frame. If you can visualize ten or more of these per hive twice a season you'll get a sense of why we bother.
doodlemaier: (marriage)

~photo courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] jenny_fur
doodlemaier: (Default)
My father still owns the house, but my brother and live there. I, at least, until I can find a job in the valley and move to 1006. My father always kept the lawn, the "compost pile", and the garden all very carefully segregated. Now it's my job, and it's a big one! I'm planning to integrate the three areas somewhat so as to make it more manageable to the point where it not only looks decent but is easily cared for by one single, very lazy stoner who could give two shits about (yard) work.

Even by myself, sober and properly motivated, I wasn't able to keep up with the raking last year, and got caught with leaves on the yard when the first snow fell. That's when I decided that I need to conceive of an alternative to the classic lawn, with its broad expanses of high-maintenance, otherwise useless grass. This season, since the lawnmowers at Medford have been out of commission, and Gilbertson up the street has been mowing our lawn with a riding mower I haven't been too motivated about fixing them. But that still leaves corners and grades left unmowed. My low-tech response has been to start collecting corrugated cardboard boxes from work (and I can get a lot of them, in increments if I'm willing to wait) that I've started slowly mulching the lawn grass to death with. That option leaves an eyesore too, but I can live with it temporarily. It's all part of a several year project to foster a low-mow to no-mow lawn, allotment-style garden around Medford.


I originally started by overlapping the edges and tacking them down with nails (which didn't work), and then old chop sticks (which didn't work for long) and finally decided just to simply throw some logs on top to weigh them down. Rain helps, too but is usually accompanied by wind - no good. By the time the leaves start falling in October Scotty will come looking for the logs I've borrowed. Which is perfect timing because by then the leaves should be falling and I'll simply rake them right over the top of the cardboard "mulch" instead of having to schlep them all to the single, centralized backyard compost heap (the lawn's a ½ acre with a dozen or so very big trees, and a hell of a lot of work for one guy and a rake!)

I'd initially conceived of pulling the cardboard back up after a couple months and planting my perennials there but the problem of keeping the cardboard down in the mean time has forced the idea to evolve to the point where the cardboard and the lawn clippings, dead leaves, and anything I weed become a permanent and integral part of the landscape. I don't believe the cardboard by itself is a very effective mulch, just like I learned the hard way the dead leaves, etc. raked off the lawn aren't a very effective mulch by itself. But together the two should work as a impervious barrier to any unwanted vegetation - including lawn grass! This way when I'm ready to plant, whether later this autumn or next spring, I simply dig a hole straight through the mulch and decomposing cardboard. There was a question raised about the safety of the formadehyde that's present in traces in corrugated, but guess what? Plants readily break that down and it becomes nitrogen in the soil! The plants that are planned for this area are such that can basically be ignored or admired all year long for their sagey goodness, harvested, or simply cut back in the fall and then more leaves from the lawn are raked over the top. The lawn becomes the garden becomes the compost heap becoms the garden.

So, the idea as it stands is to border the yard along the little slope with (3) artemisia absinthium, (2) hyssop officinalis, and a border of agastache foeniculum (so far I've only 3). In addition I'd like to check into getting a load of rip-rap dumped here to include some rock features. Voila! The Absintheur's Garden.

Later on in the fall, when I've photo-documentation and after I get a handle on how well this scheme works I'll hatch my plan to further reduce mowing, reduce leaf raking, and have an organic vegetable garden in raised beds made using cardboard boxes.
doodlemaier: (Default)
Dontcha wish everyone with the Craxy also possessed the ability and desire to transorm that energy into beautiful and fantastic art? This is my friend, Belle!

She's out in San Francisco these days in the capacity of an art therapist. She's the one who helped me to realize that I'm not an artist and, although she'd disagree with me on this, that I should probably stop making myself out to be one. I'm miserable enough as a "visual problem-solver" and that'll do me just fine. Thanks for sending these along, Belle!

+ more )

Withdrawl

Aug. 30th, 2007 03:07 pm
doodlemaier: (Default)
Can't take vacations anymore, they're simply too expensive. Not only in the financial sense but more than 3 days away from reality without pumping time/attention into it accelerates its inevitable slide into entropy. I thought I took care of everything important, at least those I had time for before leaving for Rehobeth only to find that any random detail left unattended will potentially metastasize into full-bore problems in less than a week. I should be creating with that energy, not trying vainly to hold everything together.

"Windows" to the past left open allow in the ghosts and specters of relationships that I did not nurture; not that their visits bring with them any malicious intent, but a haunting is still a haunting. And no sooner than they come they vanish again without the sense of longing and the illusion of separation they instill, and leaving only the questions they raise. I don't believe for a minute that those inquiries are coincidence within two months of putting a ring on H's finger, I only wish I understood the physics by which that kind of universal response operates. Some may notice that I'm in the process of nailing the sills shut and bricking those windows over once and for all. Please don't be offended or take it personally. It's a matter of self preservation. I've taken whatever measures available to stay in touch.

I simply can't keep up with the conversation anymore. The matter of time can't be mistrusted enough. Where the ether of all futures that might yet be condense into the fluid present nothing is stable and nothing is as it appears. Whether it's the things I put aside until now or the thoughts I bring forth the present is the liquid surface that reflects when still, or refracts when agitated, the light of my perception. But also the past, like a giant collective iceberg of frozen time, can intersect with the present and threatens to destroy anything which cannot yield, anything I try to keep solid with my expectations.



Despite all the details weighing on me I'm grateful that what really matters is unchanged.
doodlemaier: (courage)

It appears that the sn-ice is disrupting the foraging activities of some of the local vermin. Although we're more accustomed to the bi-pedal variety, this one's been coming around lately looking for handouts of cat food, photo ops, and of course, cash. Everyone loves cash.

H and I agreed to postpone V-Day until Sunday because of the weather and general malaise on my part. We really need to come up with some holidays that don't disrupt my hibernation. An unexpected V-day gift from my longest running valentine, [livejournal.com profile] lil_psy included a bottle of some very high-end absinthe and a pound of the poisonous herb it's made from. Thanks, Tre; and Happy V-Day!

I hope your move to Fl. goes smoothly, and that you prosper there.

Taily-Po
doodlemaier: (Default)
Bottling tonight. . . yay, my favorite part of the brewing process. Need another growler so that I'll two different beers set aside for Thanksgiving, two for Christmas, and still be able to bring a couple growlers with us to Richmond this Sunday. I'm getting to the point where I have more ripening beverages than I have recepticles to package them in. Catastrophic! calling all local alcoholics! Drink more beer from compression fitting bottles (not twist-offs) and donate your garbage!

Giving sample bottles of beer away to friends is a pleasure and privilege, but it's one of the main reasons that homebrewing will never ever pay for itself. I have no problem parting with the 'pops' (12 oz. bottles) despite the time and energy I put into removing labels, cleaning, and capping them, but it is nice to have them returned to me only because they're that much easier to reuse. I should start the practice of 'magic bottles' for folks who return empties promptly. I've come across a couple of odd sized bottles - 1 pint, 9 fl. oz. with the standard compression fitting tops that can serve as my 'magic bottles'. The premise is to reward folks that have historically returned glass or provided bottles to begin with by gifting them one or two of these odd bottles with the promise that I will advertize the beer of the month, or however often, with an approximate bottling date and if they're interested they can return the bottles to be filled with the rest of the house swing-tops and if they lose it. . .uh, Fuck 'em! From there I move almost exclusively to bottling in swing-tops with the exception of, maybe, six to twelve 'pops' to give away. I'll be filling two 'magic bottles' tonight; and Drewski, of all people, was quick draw on the alt.

Now I know why Stephen (with the unprounceable German name) who writes for the Beer & Wine Times suggested, even before I had acquired all of my equipment, that I transition into kegging as soon as I could afford it. Bottling sucks!

doodlemaier: (Alone in the dark)
Bottling tonight. . . yay, my favorite part of the brewing process. Need another growler so that I'll two different beers set aside for Thanksgiving, two for Christmas, and still be able to bring a couple growlers with us to Richmond this Sunday. I'm getting to the point where I have more ripening beverages than I have recepticles to package them in. Catastrophic! calling all local alcoholics! Drink more beer from compression fitting bottles (not twist-offs) and donate your garbage!

Giving sample bottles of beer away to friends is a pleasure and privilege, but it's one of the main reasons that homebrewing will never ever pay for itself. I have no problem parting with the 'pops' (12 oz. bottles) despite the time and energy I put into removing labels, cleaning, and capping them, but it is nice to have them returned to me only because they're that much easier to reuse. I should start the practice of 'magic bottles' for folks who return empties promptly. I've come across a couple of odd sized bottles - 1 pint, 9 fl. oz. with the standard compression fitting tops that can serve as my 'magic bottles'. The premise is to reward folks that have historically returned glass or provided bottles to begin with by gifting them one or two of these odd bottles with the promise that I will advertize the beer of the month, or however often, with an approximate bottling date and if they're interested they can return the bottles to be filled with the rest of the house swing-tops and if they lose it. . .uh, Fuck 'em! From there I move almost exclusively to bottling in swing-tops with the exception of, maybe, six to twelve 'pops' to give away. I'll be filling two 'magic bottles' tonight; and Drewski, of all people, was quick draw on the alt.

Now I know why Stephen (with the unprounceable German name) who writes for the Beer & Wine Times suggested, even before I had acquired all of my equipment, that I transition into kegging as soon as I could afford it. And as far as all this brewing business goes, I'd like to transition all of it to my sooper sekret alter identity, [livejournal.com profile] doodlemaier. Bottling sucks!

[livejournal.com profile] lil_psy, your mead's doing fine although you ought to come by and pick the fermentors up or at least bring by some bacardi for them (cazadores is not for vapor locks! But it's been keepin' em filled. . . ) I'll call this afternoon. And if you're reading this [livejournal.com profile] irenejericho, Tre tells me she has news from you concerning my unfortunate cider (pictured center and also bottom left - under the cut). . .

doodlemaier: (Default)
doodlemaier: (Doom)
So begins my life as a gimp. Went to the doctor today about my knee (whaaa! My knee hurts, doc!) so you know it must've gotten bad. It's still not good here a full week later, but while H and I were in Chincoteague it felt by Saturday that I had aged forty years in two days. I told the doc that it stems from an acl and meniscus injury I sustained in a introductory Kung Fu class back in '96 where the instructor failed to stretch us before hand. I had it surgeried later in the year and lately the menicus injury's been giving me trouble - and a lot of it!

Doc said there's not a whole lot at this stage that there's to be done about it. On the one hand there's still a screw in there that held the torn acl in place while it healed but is only taking up space now. Removing that could very well do more harm than good. So it's a balance between how many days per year I'm willing to limp around on it as it is, and how much more damage I'm willing to risk to stave that off for a few more years. She tells me that the orthoscopic surgery that I had ten years ago isn't performed nearly as often since the advent of better mri technology. So I was sent home with a referral to an orthapedic surgeon whom she warned me is 'in the business of selling surgeries' and a pamphlet of exercises designed for the 'care and feeding of your bum knee'. Here are my options and the choice is mine.

But this is why I really appreciate Doc Moghissi she doesn't try to sell me on procedures and medications I don't need, and she takes the time to dumb down the how's and why's of the issue at hand so that I'm better able to make a decision about what I can do about it. Never does she try to tell me what I need to do. . .

So in the ten years I've had her as my PCP (dealer?) I've brought to her only three 'issues' but she's has never steered me wrong.
for your viewing displeasure. squik factor: elevated )
doodlemaier: (Default)
Branding from the Short Attention Span Brewery

©Dean Mosher
doodlemaier: (Default)
G forces

+2 )

doodlemaier: (Default)
I finally managed to cull all the bits of my home computer together after the move, and now that I have access to my editting tools I've decided that I don't have enough pictures on my journal.

I've lived in this house for over 30 years and I've seen water get pretty high, but not like this )
I'm just glad very little got into the house.
doodlemaier: (Default)
While out killing the 'boo a coupla weeks ago I was visited by Kim, some guy I've seen walking up and down the street in my neighborhood. He's Korean and doesn't speaka' much English but told me that if I didn't like it and was just going to cut the bamboo that I can collect the young tender shoots which grow back en masse, that he had a friend who owns a local chinese restaurant and pays top dollar for these things. Apparently they're a delicacy.

Like I said, I've seen Kim walking up and down the streets wearing the same red shirt each time (his walking shirt? - I have no idea) but how do I know this guy knows what he's talking about? Sure, I've eaten bamboo shoots out of a can before, in fact, I like 'em (alot!), but for all I know Kim could be just an asian version of the village idiots that are so prevailent around here. I told him that if he thinks they're worth money he's welcome to come by and harvest them whenever he likes (the ol' Tom Sawyer trick! heh heh . . .)

Now, curiosity has gotten the best of me. I love discovering wild edible plants, not that there's anything 'wild' about bamboo in Annadale, Viriginia (other than the rate at which it invades any given area) and last night seemed the perfect time to experiment in the kitchen a little, while H's asleep and I can avoid some derision for eating things I find growing in the backyard - so I did.
grows 1 foot per day

And, to be honest, it wasn't bad!

I steamed them, per Kim's suggestion, for about 20 minutes - They smell like corn cooking. The flavor is very delicate, like mostly nothing, although the greener shoots had more of a slightly bitter taste but not bad, at all. Shoots with shorter, more compact segments are the best (probably the delicacy) most striking was the very uncommon texture - not crunchy like I expected, but tender somewhat like shrimp - yeah, shrimp! Dirt shrimp! It even kinda looked like shrimp. The extremely limited recipes that I've found so far say that bamboo takes on the flavors of whatever it's cooked with. Suggestions are welcome, although my fish bone is craving fish!

The best part about it is the fact that I didn't wake up in the middle of the night with my head swollen like a melon, covered in hives, and puking blood!
doodlemaier: (Default)
Oh.my.fuckin'.Gawd!!!!!!!!!!

I just had an apple pie experience that's as over-the-top, balls-out American as watching the un-rated version of Team America with your parents.

[livejournal.com profile] ladysoleil, I have seen the light.


As seen on [livejournal.com profile] deviathan

H made this! Her first apple pie.

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